When Lula Misugn moved to the Bay 17 years ago, she was a teenager. Her family fled the war in Eritrea that began in 1998, but since, Misgun has come to love Oakland for its proximity to nature and its large East African community.
“The Bay is like my second home,” said Misgun. “That’s what I know, actually. My whole adult life has been here, so this is what I know. This is home.”
Misgun is quiet, introverted and does not speak up about her accomplishments. Nevertheless, she’s a self-proclaimed go-getter drawing strength from watching her parents make ends meet during the most tumultuous years of their lives. She saw them move to Sudan when they did not speak Arabic and to the United States with no knowledge of English. They leaned on elementary school educations but were able to survive. Now, with two children of her own, Misgun wants to make sure that they invest time into whatever makes them happy.
“As an African immigrant, your parents want you to be just a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer,” Misgun said. “I told them do whatever makes you happy, don’t do it for money. That’s exactly what my kids are doing and I’m so proud of them for it.”
After watching her parents struggle and the tragic loss of her brother, Misgun leans on her family and her faith. To her, the most important part of ‘home’ is surrounding yourself with love and the people that make you smile.
“It’s being around people that you care about, people that make you comfortable, that you enjoy and that make you smile,” Misgun said. “My kids, my sisters and my friends, as soon as I see them, I smile. That’s what love is for me. That’s home.”